Olivia Campbell is an artist and full-time ad (wo)man trying to convince the world that .png logos mean things. A graduate of Pomona College with a studio arts major, she now resides in L.A., always hoping that her rent remains just as stable as the earthquake-proof apartments. While being a full-time brand strategist, she finds time to paint large-scale works in watercolor and oil paint. Though she likes traditional mediums, she has found a second home in the digital world, creating short videos, stickers, zines, and t-shirt designs. Olivia recently collaborated with us on a line of limited-edition Cool Girls stickers. Here, she shares with us her process in creating art and what she's learned along with way.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
Olivia: I don’t think I can say anything about myself without saying first I’m black. It informs everything I do from where I was born, how I was raised, and how I see the world. Other then that though, I’m a squirrel. I am always moving from one thing to the next, often talking about four different topics in one conversation (my friends aren’t fans of this!). I think it keeps me up on my toes and has pushed me to learn a lot of different yet sometimes specific things, like why Jurassic park is sometimes insanely inaccurate and other times dead on, minus Jeff Goldblum.
"All Pain Isn't Noble" by Olivia Campbell for Cool Girls Collective.
How would you describe your art?
My art is always informed by culture. I was an only child raised on and by a TV, so it’s natural for me to connect almost anything in my life to a pop culture moment or image.
What fuels your art/creativity? Do you look up to anyone?
I look up to musician Kimbra and artist Kerry James Marshall a lot. Kimbra because she is very, very strange, and I don’t usually like slow music but she makes me stop and think. KJM because he centers black people in his portraiture which is something I try to do a lot as well. He also has a very unique painting style that still charms me to this day.
What has been the most challenging thing or moment in your journey so far?
Finding time to do art is hard, but in the art world, I think people are used to an all or nothing approach to art, like you give up everything for it. I could never be that way because I have so many different interests that it feels disingenuous to give it all up for just the one thing. So for me, it means I have to carve out very specific times and energy to do art while balancing this full time job.
"Dry Land" by Olivia Campbell for Cool Girls Collective.
What are some important lessons you've learned through the process of making art?
Keep at it if I can. If I can’t that’s fine, too. I’m not trying to actively be famous.
What would you tell younger artists today?
You are not a business or a brand, in the market sense. Also a “brand” usually means just having a personality. Do art if you want to. Not everything has to be a side hustle or a job or a task to do (unless you really need it to make money, of course!). Just enjoy the process until you don’t; then, do something else.
"Stay. Live. Fight." and "Find Yourself" by Olivia Campbell for Cool Girls Collective.